Maqeleni: two given life for murder of cop

2012-04-16 00:00

TWO men who robbed residents of Imbali of their valuables received life sentences for their crimes, including the murder of a senior policeman.

They killed Warrant Officer Bheki Absolom Mntambo (55) in May 2010, using a firearm taken from Msawenkosi Mokoena, of Maqeleni in Imbali, whom they had robbed the month before.

Mntambo had been in the service for more than 30 years.

When the high court in Pietermaritzburg sentenced Sanele Mwelase (23) to 54 years and Bongani Hlongwane (32) to 39, Mntambo’s widow rushed out of the courtroom weeping.

“Thank God this is over and I thank police for doing their work. Even though he [her husband] won’t come back, I am pleased with the sentence.”

The two were found guilty of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. They were both from Maqeleni.

The court heard that they murdered Mntambo on May 13 after positioning themselves along the pathway near Willowfountain quarry in Imbali’s Unit 18.

Armed with Mokoena’s firearm, a 9 mm Lew Z88 semi-automatic pistol, they opened fire on Mntambo as he walked alone.

The police officer, wounded in the chest, fought back, and the two fled without taking anything.

They returned later that night to where

Mntambo’s body lay and took his wristwatch, cellphone and his 9 mm Norinco semi-automatic service pistol.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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